Citizen knowledge and opinions about watershed management in the South Santiam Basin in Oregon Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/h702q875m

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  • Watershed management is widely recognized as an important component of healthy ecosystems and its success depends on cultivating the good will, stewardship values, and participation of citizens. Because much of the streamside land in Oregon is in private ownership activities on public lands will not be enough to protect salmon and restore water quality. Improvements will also depend upon conservation activities by private landowners and communities. Since citizens are an integral part of long-term solutions, understanding the level of knowledge people possess and their opinions about watershed management is essential. This study examines citizen knowledge and opinions about stream management and ecology of the Lower South Santiam River, Crabtree Creek, and Thomas Creek watersheds in the South Santiam River basin. It focuses on the usefulness of various sources of information, public trust in specific information providers, citizens' understanding of watershed ecology, and the problems, preferences and concerns of private landowners. A mail questionnaire and interviews were used to elicit responses from community residents and members of the South Santiam Watershed Council. Several conclusions emerge from the findings. First, most respondents claim to be interested in and concerned about watershed management issues, however, few are well informed about the technical or scientific aspects of watershed ecology and management. Second, respondents indicated they currently receive little useful information about watershed issues, but there are relatively high levels of trust in several information providers. This suggests that an increase or refocus of outreach efforts may be successful in raising citizen awareness and knowledge of watershed issues. Third, most respondents agree that good watershed management is beneficial to both humans and the environment, but are also strongly opposed to various forms of government intervention. Fourth, watershed council members are more knowledgeable about watershed issues and more supportive of conservation and environmental protection. They are also less likely to see government agencies and current policies as problems. These data can assist watershed management agencies and organizations better understand the knowledge, preferences, and concerns of the public. They can also provide a basis for developing ecologically sound and socially acceptable solutions to watershed problems.
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